That Red Flag -- When Did You Notice It?

With anything there can come a time when something seems too good to be true. There are "red flags" so to speak that pop up telling you, "is this really as good as it sounds?".

For example, I received an email the other day from a credit card merchant services company. They were offering on the go, swipe machines and apps that allowed our staff to hook up their device to our iPhones or iPads and collect credit card payments from our customers. This would be a very handy service as we do a lot of events outside our office where our regular terminal is located.

This company offered the following:

* A waived application fee
* A waived cost for Hardware & Downloadable App: "FREE if you sign up with me today, if not it goes back to regular price of $69.00" is how it was phrased exactly
* a low Visa/Mc Flat Rate
* and a low Visa/Mc Per Transaction fee

Those were great terms. I've seen this technology often in the U.S., but Canada doesn't really have a great way to provide this service for customers without carrying around a big lunky wireless terminal and paying monthly fees. I was interested. I followed up by asking if there was a way to have the app on more than one employees phone, they offered two more apps and hardware free! Wow! Now they're really offering a good deal. 

But, when it comes to merchant services who have access to our company bank account, you can never be too careful. After all, they emailed me out of the blue and I had not heard of them. I thought, I better do a little homework.

Red Flag #1: This company on the surface appeared to be very new. Taking a look at their Facebook page, they only had a handful of likes and no comments from customers. 

Red Flag # 2: I noticed at the bottom of their website that this company name was actually a division of another company, to which when I did some further research discovered that one of the first returned searches in Google was a complaint about this parent company. 

Red Flag #3: the sales rep who emailed me kept using words like "if you buy today, it will be Free" or "I'll throw this in today for free only". 

Red Flag #4: it was explained to me that there would be no cancellation fees should I not want to continue with the service, however I noticed that the software provider and the hardware provider were not the same company. Did that mean I could cancel the software but might be responsible for the hardware costs? There was no good answer on any materials to that question. What if the hardware costs thousands of dollars?

In the end, I wasn't comfortable. Ever had that feeling when talking to a wedding vendor?

Have you gotten emails from businesses after going to a trade show or seen their site online, started the process of talking to them and things looked great -- for a while?

The wedding business is a fun business to be in. It of course has it's ups and downs, but for the most part, people are celebrating a magnificent moments in their lives and are truly happy. But, planning can be stressful. Finding a DJ, photographer, video service, venue, transportation, officiant and others takes time and comparing a lot of services to one another. 

You'll find a variety of options, but the same reality always holds true. There are going to be offers out there that are too good to be true. That "red flag" will waive high and wide telling you, you're heading down a road that isn't such a great idea. On a day like your wedding day, "red flags" are a bad bad thing. 

Watch for companies who don't have licensing, insurance, testimonials, contracts, back-ups, references or offer what they do full-time. Also, watch for signs that the "full-court press" is on. If they want to do everything they can not to let you leave without signing up, watch out. If they hear you're talking to a certain other vendor and their prices drop dramatically, that's a sign they don't really care about you and your event, but the final tally in the end is all that matters. 

The flags are obvious. If you think you saw one, you probably did. Trust your instincts. You'll be able to find the best wedding vendor for you that way.